The take-away challenge is for farmers to assess whether their fertiliser costs are decreasing per pasture produced. Are you growing cheaper pastures?
Nothing should ever be viewed as “waste” on the farm. Organic waste can be converted into compost that helps improve the farms soil life and fertility.
When dairy effluent is viewed as waste water, it is all about getting rid off it. However when it is viewed as beneficial water, it is all about the opportunity costs of the nutrients.
As a farmer, you can contribute negatively or positively towards the problem of freshwater pollution. If you want to make a positive contribution, what practices are you implementing to do so?
Nitrogen is a nutrient that is crucial for the optimal growth of plants. Its role in plant health may very well be unparalleled, but what happens when it becomes excessive in the soil? Is it “the more the better”, or rather a case of “too much of a good thing”?
The SWAN system is composed of soil, water, atmosphere and nutrient components. The best way to show how these integrated and interrelated measures reflect the journey of improving agricultural sustainability is to show a case study of a farm which has become more sustainable over the past five years.
Nitrogen alone cannot carry the responsibilities of other nutrients in the plant. That is why farmers need to have a balance of all essential plant nutrients in order to archive optimal growth.
Approaching agriculture in new ways requires new perspectives on how to view things. One of the main differences between conventional and sustainable agriculture is the relative reliance on external inputs.
Due to a lack of soil health, and an imbalance in soil fertility, farmers are relying for too heavily on nitrogen fertiliser for pasture growth. This can actually lead to potassium loss from the soil.
We tend to focus on the localized environmental impact of nitrogen where it is applied, but what about the broader impact associated with its production?